Dog bite insurance claims reach high point in Washington

Dog owners urged to make sure pets are properly trained and socialized to avoid costly dog bite claims. (KOMO photo)

Insurance claims for dog bites are at an all time high in our state.

According to newly-released numbers from the Insurance Information Institute, companies paid $9.1 million for dog bite injuries to other dogs, as well as people.

While some dogs are less likely to bite than others insurance companies say never assume your dog will never bite.

"More than half of all dog bites occur to small children," explained Kenton Brine of the Northwest Insurance Council.

Small kids are the most common dog bite victims because children can't always tell when it's not okay to play or pet. Seniors are also vulnerable.

Other common dog bite situation include accidents outside the home where people are walking their dog and the animal either injures another dog or a person.

Delivery people and strangers approaching the home are also common dog bite victims. In fact, online shopping is linked to a huge spike in dog attacks against postal and package delivery workers.

If you take your dog to a dog park, that's another top situation under which dog bites occur.

"The average claim, according to the data is about 33 thousand dollars," said Brine.

As part of Dog Bite Prevention Week, insurance companies say if you have a dog, make sure it's properly trained and socialized.

Get your dog spayed or neutered, so it's less likely to bite.

And if your dog is inclined to be aggressive, overly protective, or is easily frightened, make sure you have adequate liability coverage on your homeowners or renters insurance.

"A lot of people may be under insured," said Brine. "And if you have a very serious claim, it could cost more than your coverage provides for. Then it becomes your personal responsibility to pay for that."

According to the insurance industry, dog bites account for a third of all liability claims against homeowners policies.

While most policies provide $100,000 to $300,000 in liability coverage, dog bite claims often include extensive surgeries, and legal fees.

Dog owners should also be aware that with certain dog breeds, insurance won't cover dog bite claims at all.

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